Rugby league great Johnathan Thurston has been announced as the first Get Ready Queensland Ambassador, to help raise awareness around being prepared for natural disasters.
Minister for State Development Cameron Dick said Queensland scored a matchwinner by securing the services of JT to spread the Get Ready Queensland message far and wide.
“Johnathan Thurston is one of Queensland’s most influential people. When he speaks, our state listens,” Mr Dick said.
“He also has strong connections to our communities and regions, which is why he’s the perfect Get Ready Queensland Ambassador.
“Universally admired for his amazing efforts playing for the Cowboys, Maroons and Kangaroos, Johnathan is also well respected for his outstanding community contributions off the field.
“There’s really no better Queenslander to help other Queenslanders prepare for our volatile weather.”
Queensland is the most disaster impacted state in Australia, with a recovery and reconstruction program of more than $15.6 billion over the past decade.
The Get Ready Queensland program is a year-round, all-hazards resilience-building initiative to help communities prepare for natural disasters.
As part of his role, Mr Thurston will be the face and voice of social media and radio advertising campaigns.
The new Get Ready Queensland Ambassador said, as a north Queenslander, he’s experienced firsthand some of Queensland’s worst natural disasters.
“I’ve been through my fair share of weather events, including Cyclone Larry in 2006 and Cyclone Yasi in 2011,” Mr Thurston said.
“The flooding in Townsville and across large parts of Queensland in January this year was another jolting reminder of the challenges our state faces from Mother Nature.
“Because when it comes to extreme weather in Queensland, it’s not a not matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’.
“And as a husband and father of four girls, I know having a ‘what-if’ plan in place can be the difference between staying safe or putting my family in danger, so I want to help other Queenslanders become better prepared for storms.
“These steps can be simple: having a household emergency kit and plan, communicating with your neighbours, checking your insurance,” he said.
“The Get Ready Queensland website has a range of resources to help Queenslanders take the steps they need to protect what’s most important to them.”
Member for Mundingburra Coralee O’Rourke said Thurston’s wide-reaching appeal would prove invaluable for spreading the Get Ready Queensland message.
“JT is a true icon of the north, so for him to be supporting our region in this way is going to help immensely when it comes to community awareness around cyclones, storms and bushfires,” Mrs O’Rourke said.
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart thanked Johnathan Thurston for taking on the appointment and for continuing to give back to the city and state.
“JT has a huge heart and is always happy to help others. It’s fantastic he’s giving his time to this great initiative,” Mr Stewart said.
Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said the appointment of Johnathan Thurston as the Get Ready Queensland Ambassador was symbolic for the city.
“JT’s most memorable rugby league moments were borne from preparation and resilience. The 2015 NRL Grand Final is a perfect example – JT and the Cowboys never gave up, because they came prepared to win,” Mr Harper said.
As part of the announcement, the Queensland Government has also allocated $2 million to help local governments improve resilience in their communities.
Queensland’s 77 councils and one town authority have access to this funding for various initiatives and resources, including disaster dashboards, first aids kids, flood warning signs, community awareness activities and more.
“These grants play an important role in our resilience as a state,” Mr Dick said.
“The flexibility of the funding also benefits councils, for example seven local governments in our north west have pooled their funds this year to develop a Get Ready community information portal and produce digital awareness resources.
“I’m also pleased a number of councils are planning on hosting activities to coincide with Get Ready Queensland week, which happens 13-19 October.
“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to making Queensland the most disaster resilient state in Australia, and this funding will go a long way to achieving that.”